How to Get Back to the Gym When You Can’t Even Run a Mile
A couple months ago, I could’ve have even tried to write this post. It had been years since I worked out regularly. I genuinely couldn’t run for more than a couple minutes (if even a couple minutes…) YUP. Embarrassing. Time and time again, I said “I should get back to the gym,” but I was always too scared/lazy to actually do so. A friend of mine goes regularly, and she actually inspired me to take the leap of faith.
On the day of the big BACK TO GYM event, I spent 20 minutes riffling through my measly collection of “athletic wear,” desperately looking for the perfect get up that said “I’m new here, but I’m not a total couch potato slob… I have potential!!!” I settled for an old t-shirt and leggings. I then spent 10 minutes thinking up excuses for why I couldn’t make it. I spent another 10 minutes counter-arguing each excuse. I finally went by convincing myself that if there were an apocalypse, I wouldn’t be able to outrun a single zombie. I don’t know, but it worked. To the gym I went, to run my two minutes that would have me sore for a week.
Here are a couple lessons I learned when I finally made the leap-
No One Cares
The first time, I could barely run 2 minutes on the treadmill. I was even more out of shape than I had anticipated. I was mortified. When I turned the treadmill back to walking speed, I looked around to see how many people were laughing at the near-asthma attack my two minute run had given me. To my surprise, not a single person was looking at me. Then I realized, I hadn’t looked at anyone else either. I had no idea how fast the people on the treadmills near me were running. Point here: No one is going to judge you/make fun of you for being a newbie. No one really cares. (and if they do, they have worse problems.) Everyone’s there working on their own bod- they don’t give a hoot about yours.
Every single time I’m at the gym, I see someone in much better shape than me, AND I see someone in much worse shape than me. (definitely more of the better shape people…but that’s not the point!) There will always be people better/stronger/more attractive than you, and there will always be people worse/weaker/less attractive than you. Point here: it doesn’t matter. Compare yourself to your past self, not to anyone else. Even when I see someone less in shape than me, (there are a few, okay?!) I’m not thinking poorly of them. I’m honestly cheering them on inside my head. Can’t we all just lift each other up?!
This really surprised me. I pictured going to the gym to be this daunting thing every single day. I guess I just thought spending an hour hating my life would become my new normal. To my surprise, I actually really enjoy going to the gym now. It feels good to focus solely on running- one foot in front of the other. It feels incredible to run further each time. I can feel my arms and legs getting stronger, which is obviously going to be beneficial in the apocalypse. I still can’t run an entire mile, so I’m going to need physical strength to fight the zombies off. In all seriousness, though, working out has become a sort of therapy for me. I only wish I had started it sooner.
Just Do It
Shout out to Nike for the slogan. I try to incorporate this into everything that I’m scared of. I always have to literally say to myself: “Just do it, Erika.” Going back to the gym was just the same. You can list reasons not to forever. Things will never happen unless you make them happen. If I never went to the gym, I’d literally never be able to run more than two minutes. You just gotta realize you want it, and decide to go do it. JUST DO IT. I believe in you.
I don’t care if you can’t even run one minute, or if you want to go and not even run. I don’t care if you can only lift the lightest weight, or if you can only stay for 15 minutes. JUST DO IT. You’ve gotta start somewhere. We only get one body, and we have got to take care of it. I don’t know about you, but I never want my experiences to be limited by my body. Just try once, for me. Do a home workout even. Just get your body moving. Get it stronger. Let’s promise to never say no to opportunities (travel, hikes, new jobs) because our bodies can’t handle it.
**Disclaimer: I’ve only worked my way up to running for 8 minutes, so I still have a long ways to go. My goal is to be able to run a 5K without stopping, and I will do it.